Role clarity, perception of the organization and burnout amongst support workers in residential homes for people with intellectual disability: a comparison between a National Health Service trust and a charitable company

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Changes in roles and responsibilities brought about by community care and the reorganization of the UK National Health Service (NHS) have resulted in higher levels of stress and insecurity amongst residential nursing staff working with people with intellectual disability. In the light of these organizational changes, questions have arisen about the relationship between role clarity, perception of the organization and occupational stress. A number of studies have investigated these issues amongst staff working with people with intellectual disability, although there have been few investigations in the UK. The present study examines the relationship between these variables in the context of the differences between the employees of an NHS trust and a charitable organization. The present study involved constructing a measure of role clarity and perception of the organization, and the use of the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI). The results indicated that most support workers regarded their role as being clear and their levels of burnout to be comparable with UK nursing norms. Charity staff were more likely to view their organization positively and rated their emotional exhaustion as significantly lower than NHS trust staff. A within-service comparison of homes revealed differences amongst NHS trust and charity homes on sub-scales of the MBI. The results are discussed in the context of previous research and changes in working practices in the field.

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